Lamont Weekly Report, March 19, 2011

It was a hectic week, but it ended spectacularly on a beautiful day with our celebration of Taro Takahashi's 80th birthday. Taro is one of those colleagues for whom it is easy to express our affection, and it showed in the speeches and tributes. There is not a better manifestation of the community that defines Lamont than when we get together to honor one of our own. Congratulations, Taro, and may there be many more parties in your honor.

And, yes, I was so caught up in the festivities that I forgot to write the weekly report. It will not happen again (my writing malfunction, that is).

The Japan earthquake disaster and the associated problems at the power plant continued to dominate the news cycle. This one was an "all-hands" event, where we try to keep the public informed but also need to do the work to figure out what is actually going on with the quake. Inevitably, the discussion has turned to the safety of nuclear power plants in the
US, including the one at Indian Point. The SGT group, ably assisted by David Funkhouser, Dove Pedlosky, and Kim Martineau, did a great job, culminating today in a briefing for Congressional staffers. Nevertheless, we all fear that the casualty and damage reports are going to continue to be overwhelming. Scientifically, we learn something new with every major event, but I wonder if there are not deeper lessons to be learned about our resilience in the face of tragedy.

SEARCH UPDATE: I met with Administration and the SGT division this week to answer questions about the search process. The next meeting of the search committee will be on March 28, and soon after, the call for nominations should hit the streets. The search consultant, Nick Brill, will be visiting the campus on March 28 and 29, and we will organize
some group meetings those days. We will not be able to squeeze everyone in, but Nick will be coming back repeatedly for consultation through the spring.

Finally, there will be an Executive Committee meeting next Friday. Please submit your concerns, accolades and insults to your Associate Director or Excom rep by Wednesday.